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Wikileaks: The Gitmo Files
#1
http://wikileaks.ch/gitmo/
The Guantanamo Files

On Sunday April 24, 2011 WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files from the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The details for every detainee will be released daily over the coming month.
WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners

- WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners (english)
- Wikileakes révèle les dossiers secrets de tous les prisonniers de Guantánamo(français)
- Wikileaks saca a luz expedientes secretos de todos los prisioneros en Guantánamo(español)

In its latest release of classified US documents, WikiLeaks is shining the light of truth on a notorious icon of the Bush administration's "War on Terror" -- the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which opened on January 11, 2002, and remains open under President Obama, despite his promise to close the much-criticized facility within a year of taking office.
In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the prisoners held at Guantánamo -- 758 out of 779 in total -- are described in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.
These memoranda, which contain JTF-GTMO's recommendations about whether the prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred to their home governments, or to other governments) contain a wealth of important and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example, and, in the cases of the majority of the 171 prisoners who are still held, photos (mostly for the first time ever).
They also include information on the first 201 prisoners released from the prison, between 2002 and 2004, which, unlike information on the rest of the prisoners (summaries of evidence and tribunal transcripts, released as the result of a lawsuit filed by media groups in 2006), has never been made public before. Most of these documents reveal accounts of incompetence familiar to those who have studied Guantánamo closely, with innocent men detained by mistake (or because the US was offering substantial bounties to its allies for al-Qaeda or Taliban suspects), and numerous insignificant Taliban conscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Beyond these previously unknown cases, the documents also reveal stories of the 397 other prisoners released from September 2004 to the present day, and of the seven men who have died at the prison.
The memos are signed by the commander of Guantánamo at the time, and describe whether the prisoners in question are regarded as low, medium or high risk. Although they were obviously not conclusive in and of themselves, as final decisions about the disposition of prisoners were taken at a higher level, they represent not only the opinions of JTF-GTMO, but also the Criminal Investigation Task Force, created by the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations in the "War on Terror," and the BSCTs, the behavioral science teams consisting of psychologists who had a major say in the "exploitation" of prisoners in interrogation.
Crucially, the files also contain detailed explanations of the supposed intelligence used to justify the prisoners' detention. For many readers, these will be the most fascinating sections of the documents, as they seem to offer an extraordinary insight into the workings of US intelligence, but although many of the documents appear to promise proof of prisoners' association with al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, extreme caution is required.
The documents draw on the testimony of witnesses -- in most cases, the prisoners' fellow prisoners -- whose words are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion (sometimes not in Guantánamo, but in secret prisons run by the CIA), or because they provided false statements to secure better treatment in Guantánamo.
Regular appearances throughout these documents by witnesses whose words should be regarded as untrustworthy include the following "high-value detainees" or "ghost prisoners". Please note that "ISN" and the numbers in brackets following the prisoners' names refer to the short "Internment Serial Numbers" by which the prisoners are or were identified in US custody:
Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016), the supposed "high-value detainee" seized in Pakistan in March 2002, who spent four and a half years in secret CIA prisons, including facilities in Thailand and Poland. Subjected to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, on 83 occasions in CIA custody August 2002, Abu Zubaydah was moved to Guantánamo with 13 other "high-value detainees" in September 2006.
Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ISN 212), the emir of a military training camp for which Abu Zubaydah was the gatekeeper, who, despite having his camp closed by the Taliban in 2000, because he refused to allow it to be taken over by al-Qaeda, is described in these documents as Osama bin Laden's military commander in Tora Bora. Soon after his capture in December 2001, al-Libi was rendered by the CIA to Egypt, where, under torture, he falsely confessed that al-Qaeda operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons. Al-Libi recanted this particular lie, but it was nevertheless used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Al-Libi was never sent to Guantánamo, although at some point, probably in 2006, the CIA sent him back to Libya, where he was imprisoned, and where he died, allegedly by committing suicide, in May 2009.
Sharqawi Abdu Ali al-Hajj (ISN 1457), a Yemeni, also known as Riyadh the Facilitator, who was seized in a house raid in Pakistan in February 2002, and is described as "an al-Qaeda facilitator." After his capture, he was transferred to a torture prison in Jordan run on behalf of the CIA, where he was held for nearly two years, and was then held for six months in US facilities in Afghanistan. He was flown to Guantánamo in September 2004.
Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi (ISN 1453), a Yemeni, who was seized in the UAE in January 2003, and then held in three secret prisons, including the "Dark Prison" near Kabul and a secret facility within the US prison at Bagram airbase. In February 2010, in the District Court in Washington D.C., Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. granted the habeas corpus petition of a Yemeni prisoner, Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, largely because he refused to accept testimony produced by either Sharqawi al-Hajj or Sanad al-Kazimi. As he stated, "The Court will not rely on the statements of Hajj or Kazimi because there is unrebutted evidence in the record that, at the time of the interrogations at which they made the statements, both men had recently been tortured."
Others include Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (ISN 10012) and Walid bin Attash (ISN 10014), two more of the "high-value detainees" transferred into Guantánamo in September 2006, after being held in secret CIA prisons.
(Andy Worthington)
How to Read WikiLeaks' Guantánamo Files

The nearly 800 documents in WikiLeaks' latest release of classified US documents are memoranda from Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO), the combined force in charge of the US "War on Terror" prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to US Southern Command, in Miami, Florida, regarding the disposition of the prisoners.
Written between 2002 and 2008, the memoranda were all marked as "secret," and their subject was whether to continue holding a prisoner, or whether to recommend his release (described as his "transfer" -- to the custody of his own government, or that of some other government). They were obviously not conclusive in and of themselves, as final decisions about the disposition of prisoners were taken at a higher level, but they are very significant, as they represent not only the opinions of JTF-GTMO, but also the Criminal Investigation Task Force, created by the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations in the "War on Terror," and the BSCTs, the behavioral science teams consisting of psychologists who had a major say in the "exploitation" of prisoners in interrogation.
Under the heading, "JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment," the memos generally contain nine sections, describing the prisoners as follows, although the earlier examples, especially those dealing with prisoners released -- or recommended for release -- between 2002 and 2004, may have less detailed analyses than the following:
1. Personal information

Each prisoner is identified by name, by aliases, which the US claims to have identified, by place and date of birth, by citizenship, and by Internment Serial Number (ISN). These long lists of numbers and letters -- e.g. US9YM-000027DP -- are used to identify the prisoners in Guantánamo, helping to dehumanize them, as intended, by doing away with their names. The most significant section is the number towards the end, which is generally shortened, so that the example above would be known as ISN 027. In the files, the prisoners are identified by nationality, with 47 countries in total listed alphabetically, from "az" for Afghanistan to "ym" for Yemen.
2. Health

This section describes whether or not the prisoner in question has mental health issues and/or physical health issues. Many are judged to be in good health, but there are some shocking examples of prisoners with severe mental and/or physical problems.
3. JTF-GTMO Assessment


a. Under "Recommendation," the Task Force explains whether a prisoner should continue to be held, or should be released.
b. Under "Executive Summary," the Task Force briefly explains its reasoning, and, in more recent cases, also explains whether the prisoner is a low, medium or high risk as a threat to the US and its allies and as a threat in detention (i.e. based on their behavior in Guantánamo), and also whether they are regarded as of low, medium or high intelligence value.
c. Under "Summary of Changes," the Task Force explains whether there has been any change in the information provided since the last appraisal (generally, the prisoners are appraised on an annual basis).

4. Detainee's Account of Events

Based on the prisoners' own testimony, this section puts together an account of their history, and how they came to be seized, in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere, based on their own words.
5. Capture Information

This section explains how and where the prisoners were seized, and is followed by a description of their possessions at the time of capture, the date of their transfer to Guantánamo, and, spuriously, "Reasons for Transfer to JTF-GTMO," which lists alleged reasons for the prisoners' transfer, such as knowledge of certain topics for exploitation through interrogation. The reason that this is unconvincing is because, as former interrogator Chris Mackey (a pseudonym) explained in his book The Interrogators, the US high command, based in Camp Doha, Kuwait, stipulated that every prisoner who ended up in US custody had to be transferred to Guantánamo -- and that there were no exceptions; in other words, the "Reasons for transfer" were grafted on afterwards, as an attempt to justify the largely random rounding-up of prisoners.
6. Evaluation of Detainee's Account

In this section, the Task Force analyzes whether or not they find the prisoners' accounts convincing.
7. Detainee Threat

This section is the most significant from the point of view of the supposed intelligence used to justify the detention of prisoners. After "Assessment," which reiterates the conclusion at 3b, the main section, "Reasons for Continued Detention," may, at first glance, look convincing, but it must be stressed that, for the most part, it consists of little more than unreliable statements made by the prisoners' fellow prisoners -- either in Guantánamo, or in secret prisons run by the CIA, where torture and other forms of coercion were widespread, or through more subtle means in Guantánamo, where compliant prisoners who were prepared to make statements about their fellow prisoners were rewarded with better treatment. Some examples are available on the homepage for the release of these documents:http://wikileaks.ch/gitmo/
With this in mind, it should be noted that there are good reasons why Obama administration officials, in the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by the President to review the cases of the 241 prisoners still held in Guantánamo when he took office, concluded that only 36 could be prosecuted.
The final part of this section, "Detainee's Conduct," analyzes in detail how the prisoners have behaved during their imprisonment, with exact figures cited for examples of "Disciplinary Infraction."
8. Detainee Intelligence Value Assessment

After reiterating the intelligence assessment at 3b and recapping on the prisoners' alleged status, this section primarily assesses which areas of intelligence remain to be "exploited," according to the Task Force.
9. EC Status

The final section notes whether or not the prisoner in question is still regarded as an "enemy combatant," based on the findings of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, held in 2004-05 to ascertain whether, on capture, the prisoners had been correctly labeled as "enemy combatants." Out of 558 cases, just 38 prisoners were assessed as being "no longer enemy combatants," and in some cases, when the result went in the prisoners' favor, the military convened new panels until it got the desired result.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#2
Proof of more lies, deception and needless torture and deprivation of rights and legal due process...from the would-be leader of the free world...what a sad joke.

WikiLeaks Releases Guantánamo Bay Prisoner Reports
Kevin Poulsen April 25, 2011 WIRED

Detainees walk around the exercise yard in Camp 4, the medium security facility within Camp Delta at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Photo: Department of Defense

WikiLeaks on Sunday began publishing from a collection of 779 classified reports on current and former prisoners of America's military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

WikiLeaks' graphic for its latest release of leaked military documents

The documents date from 2002 to 2008, and take the form of Secret-level memoranda sent from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo, to the U.S. Southern Command in Florida.

The Obama administration protested the partial publication of the documents by several news organizations Sunday. "These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information," read an official statement published in the New York Times, one of the newspapers that reported from an advance copy of the documents.

The Washington Post reports that the leaked files contains new details on the location and organization of al-Qaida's leadership before and after the September 11 attacks.

"According to the documents, [Osama] bin Laden and his deputy escaped from Tora Bora in mid-December 2001," the Post notes. "At the time, the al-Qaeda leader was apparently so strapped for cash that he borrowed $7,000 from one of his protectors a sum he paid back within a year."

The New York Times reports that the "documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures that drew global condemnation."

The Times which has been out of favor with WikiLeaks since running a profile of founder Julian Assange last October reportedly acquired the secret-spilling website's newest release indirectly through another source, and then passed it to the UK's Guardian and NPR.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#3
Quote:The Washington Post reports that the leaked files contains new details on the location and organization of al-Qaida's leadership before and after the September 11 attacks.

Or, rather, the Washington Post desperately tries to divert attention away from the disgrace of the Guantánamo war crimes to some dodgy, probably false, intel about "al-Qaida's leadership".

Strange that - I thought MSM's current approved narrative was that al-Qaeda is a leaderless franchise. Like Subway....
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
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#4
2011-04-25 New York Times, NPR Collude with US Government on Gitmo Files Coverage
Submitted by kgosztola on Mon, 04/25/2011 - 12:47
News Analysis Guantánamo Bay Pentagon US State Embassy Cables

A statement from the Pentagon was published just after 9 pm ET on April 24th, no more than an hour or two after the New York Times had posted their package covering the Gitmo Files they had not obtained from WikiLeaks. The statement was posted on NPR and the Times website. Yet, again, it seems this is an instance of complete collusion between the press and government.

Michael Calderone reports "representatives from NPR and the Times visited the White House and spoke with Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell and members of Joint Task Force Guantanamo." And, "The news organizations agreed to some redactions requested by government officials but not all of them."

Recall, in February, it was found out that the Times had met with the State Department prior to their release of the US State Embassy Cables. Marcy Wheeler over at Firedoglake highlighted NYT's close cooperation with the State Department:

Because of the range of the material and the very nature of diplomacy, the embassy cables were bound to be more explosive than the War Logs. Dean Baquet, our Washington bureau chief, gave the White House an early warning on Nov. 19. The following Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, Baquet and two colleagues were invited to a windowless room at the State Department, where they encountered an unsmiling crowd. Representatives from the White House, the State Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the C.I.A., the Defense Intelligence Agency, the F.B.I. and the Pentagon gathered around a conference table. Others, who never identified themselves, lined the walls. A solitary note-taker tapped away on a computer.

The meeting was off the record, but it is fair to say the mood was tense. Scott Shane, one reporter who participated in the meeting, described "an undertone of suppressed outrage and frustration."

Subsequent meetings, which soon gave way to daily conference calls, were more businesslike. Before each discussion, our Washington bureau sent over a batch of specific cables that we intended to use in the coming days. They were circulated to regional specialists, who funneled their reactions to a small group at State, who came to our daily conversations with a list of priorities and arguments to back them up. We relayed the government's concerns, and our own decisions regarding them, to the other news outlets.

Once again, the Timesopted to subvert its duty and be for the State instead of fully owning its role as a member of the Fourth Estate. It chose to cover for power instead of covering power. [Unfortunately, on matters of national security and war, this is what typically happens.]

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell's statement is a well-prepared statement. It does not simply condemn the release of the files and then make a general note about the US and how it is committed to upholding human rights and so on and so forth. The statement clearly outlines that a Guantanamo Task Force was established in January 2009 and suggests that the material published may be outdated because the Task Force has made assessments of detainees and those reports were not released.

The statement also claims, "Both the previous and the current Administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo." That may be mostly true, as the US State Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks indicated Guantanamo detainees had been used as "bargaining chips." American diplomats bargained with countries to help empty the prison by resettling detainees. They told Slovenia if it wanted to get a meeting with President Barack Obama. They offered Kiribati incentives "worth millions of dollars to take Chinese Muslim detainees." Diplomats suggested to Belgium that by taking detainees it could be a "low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe."

If the process of resettling has not worked as planned, perhaps the manner in which the US went about trying to resettle detainees is partly to blame for the inconvenience these terror suspects have caused the supreme power. Or, perhaps, the fact that, as Amy Davidson of the New Yorker writes, the US reasoning for detaining individuals does "not always really involve a belief that a prisoner is dangerous to us or has committed some crime; sometimes (and this is more debased) we mostly think we might find him useful"Perhaps, that has something to do with the complications being experienced.

The Pentagon statement notes the "previous Administration transferred 537 detainees; to date, the current Administration has transferred 67" Former President George W. Bush occupied the position of US President of the United States for eight years. That means on average Bush released 67 detainees each year of his presidency. But, actually, that's a poor calculation because the first detainee wasn't released from Guantanamo until 2002. So, in reality, Bush released an average of 89 detainees each year he was president.

How many detainees has Obama released each year thus far? About 34 detainees each year. And, unlike Bush, President Obama was actually committed to closing Guantanamo.

The statement continues, "Both Administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority and we are concerned that the disclosure of these documents could be damaging to those efforts."

The "security" of American citizens is of so much concern that detainees are a different class of people in the United States. They are de-human and not allowed civilian trials in the United States. They are "enemy combatants" and not prisoners of war and thus are not able to claim protections under the Geneva Conventions.

Finally, the statement concludes, "We will continue to work with allies and partners around the world to mitigate threats to the U.S. and other countries and to work toward the ultimate closure of the Guantanamo detention facility, consistent with good security practices and our values as a nation."

But, just how hard does the Pentagon and the Obama Administration plan to work to close Guantanamo? In 2009, the Senate canceled $80 million to fund the relocation of Guantanamo detainees. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye and Republican Sen. James Inhofe slid a provision into a war appropriations bill that made it so "none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this act may be used to transfer, release, or incarcerate any individual who was detained as of May 19, 2009, at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to or within the United States."

In March of this year, President Obama announced he would restart military commissions for Guantanamo detainees and no longer push to secure civilian trials for the detainees in the United States. He also announced "a new process for continuing to hold those detainees not charged or convicted but deemed too dangerous to be free."

Despite the fact that he had pledged to close Guantanamo by January 2010 days after his inauguration, he defended military commissions saying they "ensure our security and our values are strengthened." But, these announcements virtually ensured that Guantanamo would continue to stay open.

Where are these detainees going to go when not being tried? And, if they are not being given civilian trials, what makes anyone think they will be resettled in civilian prisons? They would have to be held at military prisons. And, what is the likelihood that they would be resettled in prisons on the US mainland if there is no political will to support trying detainees in cities like New York?

The Obama Administration currently has no public campaign to close the Guantanamo prison beyond the words that are printed in this statement. It is not advocating vigorously for the closure. It is much harder for it to defend the prison's closure than it is to defend it staying fully operational.

The Pentagon is not suggesting the release of this information will endanger lives. The Times and other news organizations are already spinning the reports as information that shows what alleged terrorists were up to on September 11 and after before they were seized or captured. Thus, the release of the information could, if spun correctly by media, help the government defend continuing the "war on terror." It could obscure revelations on the flawed process of assessing whether a detainee is dangerous or not, whether a detainee has information that can be used to capture leaders of al Qaeda, whether a detainee deserved to be transferred to Guantanamo, etc.

The disclosure of information will hurt the government not because this information was "obtained illegally" but because, like many releases from WikiLeaks, it shows us the truth of what has been going on with detainees right down to specific details about each detainee in the prison.

Contrary to Morrell's suggestion, the released documents are more likely to help spur efforts to close Guantanamo than damage the efforts. The release will force Americans to once again ask themselves why the military prison in Cuba needs to remain open. It will give human rights organizations another opportunity to force the political class in Washington to confront the prison, one the Bush Administration crafted legal justification to help prevent officials from being prosecuted for illegal or inhumane conduct.

It may not have the impact of getting the prison closed, but the transparency or disclosure is still valuable to the world. If this doesn't catalyze a second burst of will from America to close the prison, one thing is certain: It will reveal yet another inhuman and callous American reality.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#5
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun releasing thousands of secret documents from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay that reveal the Bush and Obama administrations knowingly imprisoned more than 150 innocent men for years without charge. In dozens of cases, senior U.S. commanders were said to have concluded that there was no reason for the men to have been transferred to Guantánamo. Among the innocent prisoners were an 89-year-old Afghan villager and a 14-year-old boy who had been kidnapped. Some men were imprisoned at Guantánamo simply because they wore a popular model of Casio watches, which had been used as timers by al-Qaeda. The documents also reveal that the journalist Sami al-Hajj was held at Guantánamo for six years partly in order to be interrogated about his employer, the Al Jazeera network. Al-Hajj's file said he was sent to Guantánamo in order to "provide information on ... the Al-Jazeera news network's training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#6
AMY GOODMAN: A massive trove of documents obtained by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks have revealed that the U.S. believed many of those held at Guantánamo were innocent or low-level operatives.The U.S. military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and The Guardian of Britain, reveal how many prisoners were taken to the Guantánamo prison and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds. In some cases, prisoners were held on the basis of confessions extracted by maltreatment.

The 759 Guantánamo files, classified as, quote, "secret," cover almost every prisoner since the camp was opened in 2002. More than two years after President Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 172 are still there.

Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said it was unwise for Congress to have blocked the administration from bringing Guantánamo detainees to trial in the United States.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: Members of Congress have intervened and imposed restrictions blocking the administration from bringing any Guantánamo detainees to trial in the United States, regardless of the venue. As the President has said, those unwise and unwarranted restrictions undermine our counterterrorism efforts and could harm our national security.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Attorney General Eric Holder speaking earlier this month.

To discuss the massive leak of secret documents and what they reveal about Guantánamo , we're joined by Andy Worthington, journalist, author of the book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison. He's co-director of the film Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.

Andy, no, we're not having you on in the London studio to talk about the royal wedding

ANDY WORTHINGTON: I'm very glad.

AMY GOODMAN:but to talk about Guantánamo. I know that's a real exception right now, as most networks are all based there for the week. Maybe there will be some

ANDY WORTHINGTON: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: Maybe there will be some good coverage, then, of Guantánamo. But, Andy, what about the significance? What do you think is the most significant revelations? You've stayed up most of the night going through these documents.

ANDY WORTHINGTON: Well, absolutely. I mean, I have been working with WikiLeaks and with media partners, including the Washington Post and McClatchy in the U.S. and various places in Europe, over the last month, going through these documents, and they really are, you know, very detailed. I thinkyou know, I think in the broad picture is that they confirm what people who've studied Guantánamo for years have always maintained. And some of this has beenhas come out in Pentagon documents that have been released over the years officially. But you know how it goes: people forget about things. This has been going on for such a long time. But all along, it's been apparent that there's only been a very small number of genuine terrorist suspects at Guantánamo and that the rest of the people included large numbers of innocent people who were swept up because there was no situation set up to screen prisoners, because prisoners were being bought for bounty payments, and that there were a lot of low-level Taliban foot soldiers in there, as well, which is really at the heart of the failure of the war on terror to make a distinction between, on the one hand, terrorists and, on the other hand, soldiers in a military conflict. So it confirms that.

In a more detailed way, I think what people will have to spend some time looking at is that it looks as though there's a lot of information in here about evidence against prisoners. But when people look at it closely, they will, I hope, discover that in a lot of cases the same witnesses are coming up. Now, some of these are high-value detainees who were held and tortured in secret CIA prisons. So, therefore, we know that their testimony is suspiciousAbu Zubaydah, for example, who was waterboarded 83 times. There are also witnesses who are notorious within Guantánamo as being informants. They secured preferential treatment through, essentially, providing information about their fellow prisoners, often in significant numbers. Now, these stories have come out a bit in the past. They've also come out in the prisoners' habeas corpus petitions. But we've never seen it laid out like this before, with such detail provided about essentially a blank slate in which the U.S. administration filled in information about these prisoners through the interrogation of other prisoners, using torture, coercion and bribery in very many cases.

AMY GOODMAN: Osama bin Laden, the story in here of him needing $7,000, which, well, indicates he did not have a lot of funds around 2001.

ANDY WORTHINGTON: Right, yeah. Well, you know, there are so many stories in here that will take a lot of analysis, Amy, obviously, to discover what's true and what isn't. I mean, you know, I do really think fundamentally this is athis is a house of cards, and it's very difficult to know what to believe without examining it closely. And that's why I say that we need towe need to try and have some guidelines, where we know that certain people's testimony is unreliable. I think, you know, in other cases, maybe in some of these things we're never going to quite find out what the story is. I mean, certainly, I think when you're dealing with foot soldiers being dressed up as terrorists, we've got a situation of hysteria, I think, really, which has been played by the Republicans, also by Democrats. The fear card about Guantánamo has become very popular. And really, this should do away with that and reveal to people that there's a small knot of terrorists to deal with, but that with everybody else, everybody's been getting very exaggerated here about things.

So, you know, I think we will be able to examine, in a lot of ways, what's true and what isn't. But in other cases, this is what happens when you do what the Bush administration did, and what President Obama has found so difficult to close, which is to throw away international laws and treaties regarding the detention of prisoners in wartime, confuse soldiers with terrorists, deny rights to all of them, set up an illegal offshore interrogation centerall with no idea about what you're going to do with it in the end. And sadly, along the way, what we've seen happen and what these files reveal in detail is that when people didn't have anything to tell, because in so many cases they were nobodies, the Bush administration actually introduced torture techniques in an attempt to extract information from them, believing wrongly in so many cases that they were trained to resist interrogation by al-Qaeda. And that's, you know, the really depressing heart, I think, of what's been revealed here.

AMY GOODMAN: Among the revelations, senior U.S. commanders conclude in dozens of cases there's no reason recorded for transfer. That's talking about the farmers, the chefs, the drivers, who were rounded up or even sold to U.S. forces and transferred across the world.

ANDY WORTHINGTON: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the thing is that, you know, what's interesting in a historical sense, really, Amy, is that we're getting for the first time any information from the government about the first 200 prisoners who were released. Now, you know, we've known for years what their names are and when there were released. And in some cases, stories have come about because they've been interviewed, or when they released, they spoke to the media. In the vast majority of cases, nothing has emerged. Now we're getting the details. And now we can understand why it was that Major General Dunlavey, who was the commander of Guantánamo in 2002, complained about the "Mickey Mouse" prisoners, the number of "Mickey Mouse" prisoners, as he described them, that he was being sent from Afghanistan. Here they are. Here are the farmers and the cooks and the taxi drivers and all these people who should never have been rounded up in the first place and who ended up in Guantánamo because there was no screening process.

These documents, interestingly, the administrationthe authorities at Guantánamo give their reasons for why the prisoners were sent to Guantánamo. And they say, "Oh, it's so that we can investigate more of this and that." And there are some ludicrous examples. There's a British man who was imprisoned by the Taliban, and it's to find out more about the Taliban's way of interrogating prisoners. Poor man. He should never have been sent there. But, you know, what's kind of behind all this about thesethe ways of these stories coming out is just much more alarming, really. It's really profoundly disturbing, I think, the extent to which this has been happening.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera reporter who was detained for more than six years.

ANDY WORTHINGTON: Well, Sami, Sami al-Hajj, who was a cameraman with Al Jazeera, had been in Afghanistan covering the U.S. occupation, had then gone to renew his visa, to deal with other things in Pakistan, had everything officially in place to go back into Afghanistan, is then stopped on the border and taken by U.S. forces to Bagram. And, you know, as he has always said and his lawyers said over the years before his release in 2009, everything that happened to him in Guantánamo was about the administration trying to secure information about the workings of Al Jazeera. So, nothing to do with terrorism. You know, we know the Bush administration regarded Al Jazeera as the enemy almost, so it fits in that context. But, you know, what an appalling thing to be doing, to be holding somebody for all those years and interrogating them coercively, using torture, in an attempt to find a way to try and undermine Al Jazeera, the network.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it is astounding. I mean, for people in the United States to understand, a top reporter from NBC or CNN or ABC being held for years in a prison somewhere, being questioned about thoseyou know, someone at NBC being questioned about General Electricright?which partly owns NBC.

ANDY WORTHINGTON: Yeah, right. Well, no, exactly. But, you know, I mean, as we were discussing before with theyou know, with all of the wrong people ending up in Guantánamo and all the spurious reasons for sending people thereand I actually think that they came second, Amy, because the thing that I meant to say before was that, you know, there was an interrogator called Chris Mackeyit's a pseudonym, but he wrote a book abouthe was a senior interrogator in Afghanistanabout the process of prisoners being sent to Guantánamo. And he said there effectively was no screening process. What happened was that all the lists of prisoners were sent to the top brass who were in Camp Doha in Kuwait. And their instructions came back: every single Arab that ends up in U.S. custody has to be sent to Guantánamo. And for the first six months, that applied to every Afghan, as well. So, essentially, there was no screening process. Everybody went to Guantánamo. Nothing was known about them. And then they had to invent these reasons as to why they were holding them. And that's what I think is in those documents. They say, "Oh yeah, we sent this person here to exploit them for intelligence on such and such." They actually grafted that on afterwards. When they arrived, they didn't even know who most of these people were.

AMY GOODMAN: The Casio watches, very quickly?

ANDY WORTHINGTON: The Casio watch, which dozens of prisoners were accused of having, was supposed to be something that was used to trigger improvised electronic devices, roadside bombs. I mean, in fact, you know, it's a Casio watch that was an incredibly popular model. So, you know, just another spurious basis, ways of inventing why you were holding people.

I mean, the same thing happened with missionary organizations. Jamaat al-Tabligh, for example, a huge missionary organization, millions of members worldwide, all the prisoners accused of being involved with the missionary organization, they said it was a front for terrorism. It's like accusing the Catholic Church of being a front for terrorism because of the IRA, for example. And it's not on any list of prescribed organizations by the State Department or any other U.S. government organization. It's symptomatic of how, in Guantánamo, it was a world unto itself, and theyreally, the military invented any kind of reason that it could to hold people.

AMY GOODMAN: Andy Worthington, finally, now you have Guantánamo continuing, though President Obama first said it would close, one of the first statements he made when he took office. And then you have the Obama administration deciding to try five men accused of the 9/11 attacks before a military commission at Guantánamo instead of a civilian court. The significance of this? We have 30 seconds.

ANDY WORTHINGTON: Well, I thinkyou know, I think that the documents about these high-value detaineesKhalid Sheikh Mohammedwe saw from the indictment that was dropped, because the federal court trial was blocked essentially by Republicans in the Senate, but also by Democratsthe federal court trial, there seems to be a case. Surely, this should be allowed to go ahead. These are the men allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attackswhat this was all supposed to be about, Amy, the reason that the Bush administration threw all laws to the four winds, broke all laws and treaties, and created this abomination, which still exists. It's still an abomination at Guantánamo, people held as though they were still enemy combatants, with no rights. It's really distressing. And I wish that there could be a federal court trial

AMY GOODMAN: Four seconds.

ANDY WORTHINGTON:for these men.

AMY GOODMAN: Andy Worthington, thanks so much for being with us.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#7
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/series/g...-documents

The Guardian has an interactive webpage where you can choose: country, by photo, read a short description, or read the entire file. Just spent an hour reading all the short descriptions. As bad as I thought the reasons were for most there in Gitmo...it is much MUCH worse than one would dare imagine. I hope the US Govt. is laughed off the face of the Earth by this. BY THEIR OWN DESCRIPTIONS, most all were illegally being held and few for any even suspected terrorist action. It was just ugly. It still is.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#8
Normalizing Evil: The NY Times' Curious Take on the Gitmo Files

WRITTEN BY CHRIS FLOYD
MONDAY, 25 APRIL 2011 13:28

More confirmation of imperial perfidy is on tap today from the trove of classified files originally obtained by WikiLeaks on the U.S. concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay. Most of the information released so far was already known -- to the very, very few who cared to find out -- having emerged in dribs and drabs and fragments in various places over the years. But to see it gathered together, in raw form, in the words of the perpetrators and accomplices of this vast, still-ongoing crime, is a powerful, and sickening, experience.

Almost as sickening as the atrocities themselves, however, is the way the release has been played in the New York Times, whose coverage of the document dump will set the tone for the American media and political establishments. The Times' take is almost wholly devoted to showing how evil and dangerous a handful of the hundreds of Gitmo detainees were, and to justifying Barack Obama's betrayal of his promises to close the concentration camp. We are treated to lurid tales (many if not most of them extracted under torture, but who cares about that?) of monsters seething with irrepressible hatred of America, and so maniacally devoted to jihad that they inject themselves with libido-deadening drugs to ward off any sexual distractions from their murderous agenda.

There is almost no mention in the Times coverage of the many innocent people -- including children -- who spent years in the concentration camp, athough the main story about the documents does note, in an eyeblink, the case of one prisoner who was falsely imprisoned on the word of an Afghan official trying to hide his own complicity with insurgents. (Damn treacherous furriners!)

And the notorious case of Al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Hajj, held for six years in the concentration camp while interrogators pressed him for details not about terrorism but about the network, is also given one paragraph -- with a conclusion that implies our "serious" journalists at the Times still have their reservations about the grubby little Ay-rab: "While Mr. Hajj insisted he was just a journalist, his file says he helped Islamic extremist groups courier money and obtain Stinger missiles and cites the United Arab Emirates' claim that he was a Qaeda member."

Yes, his file could say anything that his captors wanted it to say -- information they made up, information they tortured and terrorized out of other captives. But even though al-Hajj was finally released by the very people who first made those charges -- which they obviously could not make stick -- his fellow journalists at one of the world's leading newspapers still couch his case in iffy terms: "Well, he says he was just a journalist, but look here -- al Qaeda!! Ya just never know, do you?" That's real journalistic solidarity for you.

Now it's true that the Times also runs another prominent story that seems to take on the known fact that scores of the concentration camp's inmates were innocent people battered for years with "harsh interrogation techniques" to make them confess to crimes they never committed and implicate others. The story is headlined: "Judging Detainees' Risk, Often With Flawed Evidence."

Flawed evidence! Now we'll some of the darker side. Perhaps we were too hasty to judge the main story, so .... er .... You will not be surprised at this point to find that the second story is not concerned with these scores of innocent, abused men (and children), but with ... evil Gitmo inmates who fooled their soft-hearted captors into releasing them.

Taken together, the Times' first "package" on the Gitmo documents is a breathtaking exercise in the Pravdazation of information in a putative democracy with a putative free press. The general thrust of the stories conforms almost entirely to the American elite's accepted myth about Gitmo -- and indeed, about all of the state's crimes against humanity: that well-intentioned, good-hearted people did the best they could in a volatile situation. Mistakes were made, sure, and of course there were a few bad eggs here and there at the lower levels, and yeah, some officials were more competent than others, and things are in a bit of a mess, but still. When we erred, it was usually because we were too soft for our own good. And in any case, the intentions of our leaders and their minions are always noble and pure: to protect the security of the American people, and advance democracy throughout the world.

This is the message that the New York Times wants you to take away from its first, scene-setting, tone-establishing package on the Gitmo files. (It also wants you to know that although the files were originally obtained by WikiLeaks, the Times got their copy "from a different source." They're not involved with those awful, icky, dangerous WikiLeakers, no sireebob! They are a serious, reputable organization.)

Here, perhaps, is the nut graph, the essence of the "insights" taken from the files by Messers Savage, Glaberman, Lehren and their editors:

The Guantánamo assessments seem unlikely to end the long-running debate about America's most controversial prison. The documents can be mined for evidence supporting beliefs across the political spectrum about the relative perils posed by the detainees and whether the government's system of holding most without trials is justified.

Nothing to see here in these files; nothing to end the "debate" over Gitmo. And what, according to the New York Times, are the parameters of this debate? The "relative peril" posed by the captives and whether holding any person for the rest of his life without trial is "justified." Think of that! Whether to hold a person -- any person -- in captivity, indefinitely, without trial, is now a matter of "debate" in the United States of America. Of course, the truth is that it is not a matter of debate at all; it is simply an accepted fact now, by our political and media elites, and by the general public.

Indeed, note this truly chilling phrase, in the second paragraph of the main story:

"What began as a jury-rigged experiment after the 2001 terrorist attacks now seems like an enduring American institution ... "

This is offered straight up, as a statement of fact, and not as, say, a prelude to moral outrage or deep shock. Certainly not on the part of the reporters, who maintain a completely ersatz "neutrality" as they "mine" the documents "for evidence supporting beliefs" in the elitist myth of America's bumbling, shambling goodness. But they don't even bother scrounging up someone -- someone "serious," of course, from a reputable human rights group, or maybe an Ivy League academic -- to offer even the mildest, blandest intimation that perhaps maybe it might not be the very best thing in the world for a center of torture, coercion, and lawless imprisonment to become "an enduring American institution."

There is apparently no room in this civilized "debate" for the expression of that idea, even in the severely attenuated form that any mildly dissenting thought is allowed expression in the pages of our leading news journal. Nor is there any room for the notion that it is a monstrous evil to kidnap people, buy them from bounty hunters, round them up in city streets all over the world, and dump them in a concentration camp where they can be tortured, abused, driven mad and abandoned without any legal recourse for years on end -- or years without end.

Such thoughts are now beyond the pale. The concentration camp is now "an enduring American institution." Our wise president is right to betray his sworn promises to end the system. We need to keep all these big bad men locked up. It's a mistake to be too soft. These are the "new insights" that the New York Times -- leader of, yes, the "liberal media" -- wants you to take away from the Gitmo files. It's all OK. It's all ... normal.

Which reminds me of something I wrote almost 10 years ago, in November 2001, in the very weeks that the concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay was bringing in its first hooded captives for "harsh interrogation":

It won't come with jackboots and book burnings, with mass rallies and fevered harangues. It won't come with "black helicopters" or tanks on the street. It won't come like a storm but like a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality has taken its place.

As in Rome, all the old forms will still be there; legislatures, elections, campaigns plenty of bread and circuses for the folks. But the "consent of the governed" will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small group of nobles who rule largely for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among this elite, and a degree of free debate will be permitted, within limits; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to govern or influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized usually by "the people" themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by an impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, not thoughtful citizens, and left ignorant of current events by a media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

The rulers will often act in secret; for reasons of "national security," the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, the murder of "enemies" selected by the leader, undeclared war, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new "security structures" targeted at the populace. In time, all this will come to seem "normal," as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone.

The new normality is here, and is being entrenched even further, every day, by the drone-wielding, war-surging, torturer-defending Continuer-in-Chief of this brutal imperial system. Obama is doubtless reading the package with a big smile on his face, as he watches the Times scurry to justify his wholesale adoption of the Bush-Cheney gulag mindset. And how many "progressives" will now seize on the Times' take to acquit their noble champion for betraying his promises on Gitmo? ("See, Obama was right: ya can't let those monsters loose after all!") Keeping Gitmo open -- indefinitely -- will now become the new "centrist" position. And those who felt a bit wiggly about their champion's failure in this regard can -- what else? -- move on, and fight wholeheartedly for his re-election.

The myth lives on ... even as the chill of autumn turns into a long, endless winter.

2. Another View
But while the sanitary engineers at the NY Times work hard to keep the American people as ignorant as possible about the goings-on at Gitmo, those unfortunate wretches living outside the Gates of Eden are being given a much more unvarnished look at the truth. The Guardian, which was also given access to the files, goes beyond the regurgitation of imperial spin to give us a portrait of the system, warts and all. Below are some of the "insights" gleaned by the Guardian from the save trove examined -- or not examined -- by the Times:

The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called "worst of the worst", many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment. The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence.

Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim. The old man was transported to Cuba to interrogate him about "suspicious phone numbers" found in his compound. The 14-year-old was shipped out merely because of "his possible knowledge of Taliban...local leaders"

The documents also reveal ... Almost 100 of the inmates who passed through Guantánamo are listed by their captors as having had depressive or psychotic illnesses. Many went on hunger strike or attempted suicide.

A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. One Briton, Jamal al-Harith, was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. The US military tried to hang on to another Briton, Binyam Mohamed, even after charges had been dropped and evidence emerged he had been tortured.

US authorities relied heavily on information obtained from a small number of detainees under torture. They continued to maintain this testimony was reliable even after admitting that the prisoners who provided it had been mistreated.

...The files also detail how many innocents or marginal figures swept up by the Guantánamo dragnet because US forces thought they might be of some intelligence value. One man was transferred to the facility "because he was a mullah, who led prayers at Manu mosque in Kandahar province, Afghanistan … which placed him in a position to have special knowledge of the Taliban". US authorities eventually released him after more than a year's captivity, deciding he had no intelligence value. Another prisoner was shipped to the base "because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver".

There is much more in the larger package offered by the Guardian. The paper also offers some telling comments by Julian Glover:

Let them read the documents. Let them try to tell us after that (as some still do, even now) that the Afghan war was fought well, and fought morally; that Guantánamo was a limited and necessary evil; that there was nothing that amounted to torture; that the prisoners stolen from across the world were almost all fanatics; and that it was necessary for democratic states to excuse themselves from the rule of law in order to save it.

"If you could only know what we can know, you would understand that what we are doing is right," our leaders used to assure us. Well now we really do know we have the documents, we have the transcripts of interviews with former prisoners, we have everything it takes to understand the nasty story of Guantánamo, exposed today in 759 leaked documents containing the words of the people who ran the place. And it is obvious that we should have seen through the evasions from the start.

The leaked files ... reveal horror that lies only partly in the physical things that were done to inmates the desperate brutality of heated isolation cells, restraining straps and forced interrogation. Such things are already grimly familiar and have been widely condemned, and perhaps for the 172 inmates who remain in Camp Delta despite President Obama's promise to close it, they continue in some lesser form. Worse things have been done in war, not least by us British, as emerging evidence from the campaign against the Mau Mau in Kenya should remind us.

But what is given new prominence by these latest Guantánamo files is the cold, incompetent stupidity of the system: a system that tangled up the old and the young, the sick and the innocent. A system in which to say you were not a terrorist might be taken as evidence of your cunning. A system designed less to hand out justice than to process and supply information from inmates, as if they were not humans but items of digital data in some demented storage machine programmed always to reject the answer "No, I was not involved". The clinical idiocy of this dreadful place is the most chilling thing of all, since it strips away even the cynical but persuasive defence: it was harsh but it worked and it kept the world safe.

It didn't work, much of the time. These files show that some of the information collected was garbage and that many of those held knew nothing that could be of use to the people demanding answers from them. Far from securing the fight against terror, the people running the camp faced an absurdist battle to educate a 14-year-old peasant boy kidnapped by an Afghan tribe and treat the dementia, depression and osteoarthritis of an 89-year-old man caught up in a raid on his son's house.

Other cases are just as pathetic. Jamal al-Harith, born Ronald Fiddler in Manchester in 1966, was imprisoned by the Taliban as a possible spy, after being found wandering through Afghanistan as a Muslim convert. In a movement of Kafkaesque horror the Americans held him in Camp X-Ray simply because he had been a prisoner of its enemy. "He was expected to have knowledge of Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics," the files record ....

The final indictment of Guantánamo is not just that it broke the rule of law temporarily, but that by doing so it made the breach permanent. Justified as a way of gathering information from the guilty, it forced the innocent to invent falsehoods as well. The security forces and politicians who permitted the camp often accuse its critics of being simplistic and squeamish. They say that the things that happened inside it were much less nasty than the things the people it contains did to others. In some cases that's right. But the Guantánamo system piled lie upon lie through the momentum of its own existence, until no one could know which those cases were, or what was true.

At times, I have feared that obsessing over the injustices of Guantánamo Bay has become a surrogate for a wider hatred of America. Read the files, and you'll realise that obsession is the only possible humane response.

15 Comments and 3 Reactions

http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/con...files.html
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
Reply
#9
The Guantánamo files reveal the often fragile physical and mental condition of Guantánamo's oldest and youngest residents, who have included an 89-year-old man and boys as young as 14.

In 2002 Guantánamo prisoners were described as "the worst of a very bad lot" by Dick Cheney, US vice-president. "They are very dangerous. They are devoted to killing millions of Americans, innocent Americans, if they can, and they are perfectly prepared to die in the effort."

But the internal files on some prisoners paint a very different picture. A 2002 assessment of Guantánamo's oldest prisoner, Mohammed Sadiq, who was then 89, revealed dementia, depression and sickness. "His current medical issues include major depressive disorder, senile dementia and osteoarthritis, for which he receives prescribed treatment." The Afghan national was also being assessed for prostate cancer.

Sadiq's records state he was detained after suspicious documents allegedly belonging to his son were found in a raid on his house. He was flown to Guantánamo four months later. Interrogators concluded within six weeks of his arrival that Sadiq was "not affiliated with al-Qaida", not a Taliban leader and possessed "no further intelligence value to the United States". He was repatriated to Afghanistan after a further four months.

Another elderly and unsuitable prisoner was found to have senile dementia on arrival at Guantánamo. Haji Faiz Mohammed, then 70, was flown to the base in 2002 after being swept up in a raid by US troops in Afghanistan. "There is no reason on the record for detainee being transferred to Guantánamo Bay detention facility," his assessment says.

The files shed light on the way mere children were shipped to the cages in Cuba. Naqib Ullah, who was about 14 when captured in 2003, spent a year interned at Guantánamo.

Naqib's file reveals he had been abducted by armed men as they passed through his village, mistreated and conscripted to fight for the Taliban. He told his captors that as US forces approached their camp most fighters fled the base, leaving a few behind to fight. Naqib was found holding a gun, the file states, but the weapon had not been fired.

US interrogators accepted Naqib's version of events. "Detainee was a kidnap victim and a forced conscript of a local warring tribe, affiliated with the Taliban. Though the detainee may still have some remaining intelligence, it's been assessed that that information does not outweigh the necessity to remove this juvenile from his current environment and afford him an opportunity to 'grow out' of the radical extremism he has been subject to." Naqib Ullah was flown home in 2004.

Another young inmate fared less well. Omar Khadr, aged 15 at the time, is the son of an alleged al-Qaida leader in Canada. He killed a US soldier by throwing a grenade at him during a battle at a suspected al-Qaida base in Afghanistan. Khadr has spent nearly nine years in Cuba as a result.

His 2004 assessment stresses the intelligence value of his family connections. "Based on the detainee's folder, the knowledgeability brief and subsequent interrogations by JTF Guantánamo, the detainee is of high intelligence value to the United States.

"Detainee continues to provide valuable information on his father's associates, and on non-governmental organisations that he worked with in supporting al-Qaida, as well as other major facilitators of interest to the US."

Khadr pleaded guilty to war crimes at a military tribunal in October 2010, becoming the first minor to face such a conviction since the second world war. The plea deal is due to see him transferred to Canada later this year, to serve the remainder of an agreed eight-year sentence.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#10
Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world's most controversial prison Spy

Innocent people interrogated for years on slimmest pretexts
Children, elderly and mentally ill among those wrongfully held
172 prisoners remain, some with no prospect of trial or release
Interactive guide to all 779 detainees
David Leigh, James Ball, Ian Cobain and Jason Burke
The Guardian, Monday 25 April 2011

More than 700 leaked secret files on the Guantánamo detainees lay bare the inner workings of America's controversial prison camp in Cuba.

The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called "worst of the worst", many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment.

The 759 Guantánamo files, classified "secret", cover almost every inmate since the camp was opened in 2002. More than two years after President Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 172 are still held there.

The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.

The old man was transported to Cuba to interrogate him about "suspicious phone numbers" found in his compound. The 14-year-old was shipped out merely because of "his possible knowledge of Taliban...local leaders"

The documents also reveal:

US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence.

Interrogators were told to regard links to any of these as an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity.

Almost 100 of the inmates who passed through Guantánamo are listed by their captors as having had depressive or psychotic illnesses. Many went on hunger strike or attempted suicide.

A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. One Briton, Jamal al-Harith, was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. The US military tried to hang on to another Briton, Binyam Mohamed, even after charges had been dropped and evidence emerged he had been tortured.

US authorities relied heavily on information obtained from a small number of detainees under torture. They continued to maintain this testimony was reliable even after admitting that the prisoners who provided it had been mistreated.

The files also show that a large number of the detainees who have left Guantanamo were designated "high risk" by the camp authorities before their release or transfer to other countries.

The leaked files include guidance for US interrogators on how to decide whether to hold or release detainees, and how to spot al-Qaida cover stories. One warns interrogators: "Travel to Afghanistan for any reason after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 is likely a total fabrication with the true intentions being to support Usama Bin Laden through direct hostilities against the US forces."

Another 17-page file, titled "GTMO matrix of threat indicators for enemy combatants", advises interrogators to look out for signs of terrorist activity ranging from links to a number of mosques around the world, including two in London, to ownership of a particular model of Casio watch.

"The Casio was known to be given to the students at al-Qaida bombmaking training courses in Afghanistan," it states.

The inclusion of association with the ISI as a "threat indicator" in this document is likely to pour fuel on the flames of Washington's already strained relationship with its key regional ally.A number of the detainee files also contain references, apparently based on intelligence reporting, to the ISI supporting, co-ordinating and protecting insurgents fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan, or even assisting al-Qaida.

Obama's inability to shut Guantánamo has been one of the White House's most internationally embarrassing policy failures. The files offer an insight into why the administration has been unable to transfer many of the 172 existing prisoners from the island prison where they remain outside the protection of the US courts or the prisoner-of-war provisions of the Geneva conventions.

The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried, informers who must be protected from reprisals, and a group of Chinese Muslims from the Uighur minority who have nowhere to go.

One of those officially admitted to have been so maltreated that it amounted to torture is prisoner No 63, Maad al-Qahtani. He was captured more than nine years ago, fleeing from the site of Osama bin Laden's last stand in the mountain caves of Tora Bora in 2001. The report says Qahtani, allegedly one of the "Dirty 30" who were Bin Laden's bodyguards, must not be released: "HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies." The report's military authors admit his admissions were obtained by what they call "harsh interrogation techniques in the early stages of detention". But otherwise the files make little mention of the widely-condemned techniques that were employed to obtain "intelligence" and "confessions" from detainees such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and prolonged exposure to cold and loud music.

The files also detail how many innocents or marginal figures swept up by the Guantánamo dragnet because US forces thought they might be of some intelligence value.

One man was transferred to the facility "because he was a mullah, who led prayers at Manu mosque in Kandahar province, Afghanistan … which placed him in a position to have special knowledge of the Taliban". US authorities eventually released him after more than a year's captivity, deciding he had no intelligence value.

Another prisoner was shipped to the base "because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver".

The files also reveal that an al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years, partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network.

His dossier states that one of the reasons was "to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network's training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network's acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL".

The Guantánamo files are among hundreds of thousands of documents US soldier Bradley Manning is accused of having turned over to the WikiLeaks website more than a year ago.

The documents were obtained by the New York Times and shared with the Guardian and National Public Radio, which is publishing extracts, having redacted information which might identify informants.

A Pentagon spokesperson said: "Naturally we would prefer that no legitimately classified information be released into the public domain, as by definition it can be expected to cause damage to US national security. The situation with the Guantánamo detention facility is exceptionally complex and releasing any records will further complicate ongoing actions."

Later, US officials called the publication of the Guantánamo files "unfortunate" saying that they had been "obtained illegally by WikiLeaks". The Pentagon press secretary, Geoff Morrell, said: "These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information."

Morrell said that the Guantánamo Review Task Force, established in January 2009 by the Obama administration, considered the leaked files during its review of detainee information. He said: "In some cases, the Task Force came to the same conclusions as the DABs [files]. In other instances the Review Task Force came to different conclusions, based on updated or other available information.

"The assessments of the Guantánamo Review Task Force have not been compromised to Wikileaks. Thus, any given DAB illegally obtained and released by Wikileaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee," he added.
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